December 27, 2013                                                  NACO E-Line Archive 

Upcoming Events

NACO County Board Workshop

February 5-7, 2014

Kearney, Holiday Inn


To view all upcoming events, click here.






AssocMembersAssociate and Sustaining Members

NACO Associate and Sustaining Members enable NACO to enhance its continuing education programs for county officials across the state. Visit NACO's complete associate and sustaining membership list here.


EducationFoundationEducation Foundation Memorial Program

A gift to NACO's Education Foundation ensures that the children of county officials and county employees are eligible to apply for scholarships to continue their education at Nebraska's higher learning institutions. Whatever their passion - history, art, music, science, education, sports - the NACO Education Foundation will provide them an opportunity to fund their education beyond the K-12 level. Memorial gifts to NACO's Education Foundation are tax deductible and will be a lasting legacy in honor of your loved one's commitment to educating the children of Nebraska's county officials and employees. For more information about how to make a memorial gift, please contact Larry Dix  / 402-434-5660 ext. 226.

In This Issue

Conference Matters   

Register Now for 2014 County Board Workshop 

Time is Running Out for Congress to Fund PILT Program for Counties  

2014 NACO Scholarship Applications Available   

Elected Officials' Salaries Must be Set by January 15       

Legal LIne  

U.S. Communities  

Order NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now 

NACo Prescription Drug Program 

County Government Day PowerPoint 

2013 County Board Handbook and Revisions  

NACo Web-Based Education 

News Across the State   

Legal Calendar 

County Classifieds 

Associate & Sustaining Members 

NACO Education Foundation Memorial Program 


Conference_MattersConference Matters
Don Thomas Receives County Official of the Year Award
Don Thomas, Lancaster County Engineer,  was honored by the Nebraska Association of County Officials as the County Official of the Year during the 119th Annual Conference held in Omaha December 11-13, 2013.  Thomas has been Lancaster County Engineer since 1981 and retired in December, 2013.  "Don Thomas is an outstanding public official who has dedicated himself to serving not only the residents of Lancaster County, but also the State of Nebraska," Larry Dix, NACO Executive Director said.  Thomas is shown below receiving his award from Larry Dix.
Johnson County Commissioner  Elected President of the Nebraska Association of County Officials
Johnson County Commissioner Terry Keebler was elected 2014 President of the Nebraska Association of County Officials during the 119th annual conference conducted in Omaha.  Keebler has been a Johnson County Commissioner since 2002.  County officials also elected Sherry Morrow, Buffalo County Supervisor, as NACO Vice President; Robert Post, Banner County Commissioner, as NACO Second Vice President; and Lee Klein, Madison County Commissioner, as NACO Secretary-Treasurer for 2014.

Five Receive President's Awards
Five  county officials were presented awards from the 2013 NACO President, Leon Kolbet at the NACO annual conference.  Each year since 1979, the president of NACO has had an opportunity to recognize and honor county officials and employees, state officials and state agency directors, NACO affiliate associations, and counties for exemplary achievements and contributions to the medium of county government.  President Kolbet recognized five individuals during the 119th annual conference and presented each with an engraved plaque reflecting this honor.  Selected by Kolbet were Lee Klein, Madison County Commissioner; Chris Rodgers, Douglas County Commissioner; Mike Boyle, Douglas County Commissioner; Jim Peterson, Cass County Commissioner; and Sandy Zoubek, Stanton County Treasurer.

Stanton County Clerk Recipient of MIPS Client of the Year Award.
Wanda Heerman, Stanton County Clerk, is the 2013 recipient of the MIPS Client of the Year Award, presented by MIPS, Inc.  The award recognizes county officials who have maintained long standing use of programs and services offered by MIPS, Inc.
County_Board_WorkshopRegister Now for 2014 County Board Workshop
The 36th annual County Board Workshop sponsored by NACO for all Nebraska county commissioners and supervisors will be held in Kearney on February 5-7, 2014. Commissioners and supervisors planning to attend the workshop are encouraged to begin registering online at NACO's website ( or by clicking here. Educational sessions covering a variety of topics will be presented on Thursday and Friday. A tentative agenda can be viewed by clicking here

The workshop will begin Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. with a review of legislation and an introduction of NACO County Board Committee members. Following a breakfast buffet on Thursday morning, plans for Thursday's agenda include general sessions for all board members from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., followed by break-out sessions in the afternoon. General session will again be the order of the morning on Friday.

The advance registration is the same as last year - $80.00 for those registering no later than January 24.  After January 24, the fee increases to $90.00.  Please note that there is no per-day or per-session fee and that all attendees will be required to wear their name tags to gain entrance to workshop events.  Additional meal tickets may be purchased at the registration desk during the workshop.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Holiday Inn at the rate of $85.95/single/
double. If you have not made reservations, you are encouraged to do so by contacting the Holiday Inn at (308)237-5971.
PILTTime is Running Out for Congress to Fund PILT Program for Counties                             

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Western Governors' Association are strongly urging Congressional appropriators and leadership to keep its promise to the nation's counties and fully fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for FY14.


The recently adopted federal budget resolution included a deficit neutral reserve fund placeholder for PILT.  With this bipartisan acknowledgement to fund the program, county leaders from across the country requested in a letter that the program be fully funded and appropriately offset in the upcoming appropriations bill.


To read more, click here.

 NACO_Scholarship_Application2014 NACO Scholarship Applications Available                             

Nebraska high school seniors who are the children, stepchildren, or under the legal guardianship of county officials or employees are encouraged to apply for one of twelve $1,000.00 NACO scholarships.  Additional information and the application form can be found under the 'Services' tab on the NACO website.  The scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2014.  To access the application, click here.     

SalariesElected Officials' Salaries Must be Set by January 15                        

The salaries of all elected county officers must be fixed by the county board prior to January 15 of the year in which a general election will be held for the respective offices.  Recognizing that  2014 is such an election year and that County Board members must set the salaries for the 2015-2018 term prior to January 15, 2014, the Nebraska Association of County Officials (NACO) once again renewed its continued effort to promote that fair and equitable salaries and benefits be provided to all elected and appointed county officials.  A report of salary recommendations and supporting documentation was previously sent to your county clerk.  If you would like a copy of the information, please contact Ashley at: 

Legal_LineLegal Line                             
Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in NACO E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Beth Ferrell of the NACO legal staff. Legal Line is not intended to serve as legal advice. Rather, it is published to alert readers to court decisions and legal or advisory matters important to county government. For a specific opinion on how the information contained in this article or that which will be discussed in future issues relates to your county, consult your county attorney or personal counsel. 



Supreme Court   Upholds County Board Tax Exemption of Pioneer Village


On December 13, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the Kearney County Board of Equalization' s exemption of 2011 property taxes for the motel and museum associated with the Pioneer Village Museum in Minden.


After the museum, motel and campground were exempted for 2011, the Tax Commissioner and Property Tax Administrator perfected appeals to the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). The TERC determined that because the motel and campground were not used exclusively for educational purposes, neither was entitled to a tax exemption. The Pioneer Village Foundation appealed.


Property tax exemptions are enumerated in Neb.Rev.Stat.  sec. 77-202. In general, this statute provides that property owned by an educational organization for the exclusive benefit of that organization is exempt from property taxes if it is used exclusively for educational purposes.  By definition, an educational institution includes "a museum or historical society operated exclusively for the benefit and education of the public." Exclusive use means the predominant or primary use of the property as opposed to incidental use.


The Court examined whether the lodging facilities were reasonably necessary to the educational mission of the museum. Evidence presented by the Pioneer Village Foundation showed that more than 95 percent of the motel and campground guests were museum patrons who needed two days to view the extensive exhibits.  Additionally, because the museum is located in a small community, no other public lodging facilities are available for museum visitors. The Court also took note of the relationship between the lodging facilities and the museum as addressed in a 1983 letter from the Internal Revenue Service granting the Foundation's exemption from federal income taxes as a 501(c )(3) entity. The Court reversed the Tax Equalization and Review Commission's decision to deny the exemption and affirmed the exemption for tax year 2011.


The complete text of Harold Warp Pioneer Village Found .V. Ewald, 287 Neb. 19,__N.W.2d__(2013), can be found by clicking  here



County Attorney Not Eligible for Unemployment


An interim county attorney who filled a vacant elective position through renewable one-year contracts was denied unemployment benefits by the Nebraska Supreme Court on Dec. 20.


After a vacancy in the elective office, Howard County hired Sivick under a series of annual contracts to complete the four-year term. The contracts specified that such duties included giving advice to the county board and all departments of county government. Sivick did not win his bid for election at the end of the term and filed for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor denied his petition but an appeals tribunal reversed the Department.  The Department appealed to the district court which affirmed the decisions of the appeals tribunal. The Commissioner of the Department of Labor appealed.


The Nebraska Supreme Court examined whether services performed for a political subdivision "in a position which, under or pursuant to the state law, is designated a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position." Such positions are exempt from benefits under Neb.Rev.Stat. sec. 48-604(6)(f)(v).  It concluded that the position was not tenured, nor was it policymaking in nature.


The Court found that the county attorney's role as the chief legal advisor for a county meant that the position was characterized as a "major" officer.  In addition, it gave great weight to the county attorney's role in giving advice.


Under Nebraska statutes, an important function of a county attorney is to provide advice. The county attorney shall give advice to the board of county commissioners and other civil officers of their respective counties. The county attorney serves as the legal advisor to the county airport authority and for the preservation, restoration, and development board for federal forts. Further, the officer of consolidated counties can call upon the county attorney for legal advice. The county attorney also has the duty to give advice to a grand jury on any legal matter. Clearly, under these statutes, the county attorney is the chief legal advisor. Thus, these statutes show that the position of county attorney is both an advisory and a major position. While we concede that the giving of advice is not a county attorney's only function and in some counties may not be the predominant one, it clearly is a statutory duty of great importance, significance, and seriousness.  Citations omitted.


Because the Court reached its decision based upon the above analysis, it did not address whether Sivick was considered an "elected official" under sec. 48-604.

The complete text of Lang v.  Howard County, 287 Neb. 66, ___ N.W.2d ___ (2013) can be found here.


US_CommunitiesU.S. Communities
NACO_DirectoryOrder NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now
NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials is a valuable resource that no only gives you names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of every county official in the state, but includes a listing of county board meeting days, NACO districts, county seats, NACO officers and directors, affiliate officers and NACO staff.  County clerks for each county will receive one complimentary copy of the directory intended for use by all offices in their courthouse.  For additional copies, click here for the order form.
CountygovernementdaycdCounty Government Day PowerPoint
The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically at no charge (sent via e-mail) for use by counties during their annual County Government Day. The PowerPoint provides a comprehensive look at county government functions in the State of Nebraska and can be customized by each county. CD's are also available for $10.00 each to cover processing, shipping and handling. To request the County Government Day PowerPoint electronically, please e-mail your request to The CD order form is available here.
County_Board_Handbook_20122013 County Board  Handbook and Revisions
The 2013 County Board Handbook and related revisions are available. The cost for a current handbook, including legislative information from the 2013 session, is $80.00/book plus $17.00 shipping and handling per book. The 2013 Supplement to the County Board Handbook is available for $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The order form is available on the NACO website here. For questions, contact Ashley Vandeloo by clicking here or call her at (402) 434-5660 ext. 223.
NACo_Web_Based_EducationNACo Web-Based Education
FirstNet and the State and Local Implementation Grant Program - Get Your County Involved!
Please join NACo for an informative webinar on the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP). FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that is charged with building, operating and maintaining a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety. The network will enable police officers, firefighters, emergency medical service professionals and other first responders to more effectively communicate across agencies and jurisdictions. The new network will also make it possible for police officers to access fingerprint databases from a squad car, for firefighters to download building blueprints while rushing to a fire, and for paramedics to transmit an accident victim's vital signs from an ambulance to an emergency room. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014  2:00-3:15 p.m. EST
To register, click here

Green Goods:  How to Create Sustainable County Purchasing and Procurement Programs
As counties strive to reduce waste, conserve energy and lower operational costs, purchasing recycled and environmentally-friendly goods, materials and services can greatly contribute to meeting a county's financial and sustainability goals. Join us to discuss how you can help your county develop an environmentally preferred purchasing program, navigate the myriad of product eco-labels and green purchasing guidelines and hear success stories from counties that have established sustainable purchasing and procurement programs.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014   2:00-3:15 p.m. EST

To register, click here.

Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience:  County Leadership in Action
Counties, regions and communities that can foresee, adapt and leverage changing economic conditions are best positioned to attract and grow new businesses, retain skilled workers and promote a high quality of life. As a result of constrained local budgets and economic uncertainties, counties must think creatively about their local and regional strengths and how to translate those assets into economic growth. To address this, NACo recently released a report, "Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action," to highlight how counties across the country are pursuing creative and innovative policies, partnerships and initiatives to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014   2:00-3:15 p.m. EST

To register, click here.
News_Across_The_StateNews Across the State
Links are to outside sources and may not be available indefinitely.

Readers may notice in the future that the number of insertions for this section of E-Line may be reduced.  This is due to the fact that several Nebraska Newspapers now charge a fee to read their articles on line making it difficult to link to the articles published.

County Officials to Get 1 Percent Pay Increase

York News-Times, 12/27.2013 

Nebraska Association of County Officials
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